HEAD COACH MIKE MUNCHAK
(on making more plays at the linebacker position)
I just think in general the first quarter of the season, the first four, five weeks we seemed to be making those type of plays as a defense. I think in general you’d like to see the ball bouncing our way a little bit with some interceptions. We got close to it like the thing that happened in Seattle when Zach (Brown) had the opportunity to make a monster play. Those are the things we have to force to happen and go ahead and make the play. Last week was a huge play when you get a sack and a fumble after a turnover. That’s exactly what you’re looking for from the defense on a weekly basis. If we could do that, we’re going to win. Whoever does it—it’s not going to matter—but obviously the linebackers are guys that are your better athletes. You’re hoping those are the guys that continue to get opportunities and those plays start happening for them, too. We have done a nice job as a defense to create those this year for the first half of the season.
(on preparing for the Colts on a short week)
Well, the scouts have already done that, and we already have information on (the Colts); the tapes are ready to be watched. The coaches will start as early as today and tomorrow starting to watch tape to get ahead the next couple days. Normally on a Friday guys get out of here at 1:00, 2:00, 2:30, 3:00, around that time, but now we’ll stay and do extra work as if it’s a Monday or Tuesday—same thing on Saturday. This year we’re home, (but) last year it was harder because we were in Minnesota. This year we have a home game, so on Saturday when the players are out of here at noon, the coaches will stay behind and starting getting ahead with watching tape. That’s the hard part because you don’t have the coordinators do that because you don’t want them thinking of another team when they’re calling the game on a Sunday. Assistant coaches, that’s OK, those guys can handle that because they’re not calling the game. We’ll do that, so we’re hoping by the time the game’s over on Sunday all of a sudden it’s a Tuesday. That’s kind of how they have to look at it, and the work they have to have done on a normal Tuesday they’ll try to do in the next couple of days. That way Sunday night we’ll come back here and work to get ready for Monday which is like a Wednesday for us and the team. There’s no way to avoid that. You have to do that, and we’ll do that like all the teams have to—same thing that Indianapolis will have to do. The good thing is it’s a division team, and you know that a little better. There’s a little familiarity, and I think that’s how the league tries to design it that you’re playing teams you’re more familiar with.
(on preparing for a team that is coming off a bye week)
You know, (with) a team that’s not winning, it’s a lot tougher. You don’t know what they may change. Obviously, if you’re playing well and doing good things, you know exactly what you’re going to see. So, there is a change, just like in preseason where you’re not quite sure that opening game how it’s going to be. I think there’s a little more uncertainty because it’s a team that hasn’t played as well as they’d like. They want a fresh start, starting over. They obviously did what we did; they took a good look at themselves and probably saw what they needed to do to improve upon and what they were doing well. I’m sure they’re going to make some adjustments that we haven’t seen on tape. That’s something that will make this game a little different, I think, especially in the first quarter, first half if there’s certain things they’re doing that are different than they showed on tape because they tried to change the outcome of some of their games. They went to Denver and played really well. They gave Denver all they could handle, and they do that with a lot of teams. They just couldn’t finish some games. I think there will be some tweaking, but when the smoke clears, I think it’ll be what we see on tape.
I just think the opportunities haven’t been there as much as they were when they were getting their groove going when they played in those four games in a row. I think that’s something you’ll see more as we go forward. I think it was disappointing that after the game we realized Nate (Washington) didn’t get a ball and all that. We didn’t really realize it at the time, so that was really disappointing. The win was the most important thing, and I think you’ll see that develop as we go forward with him and Kendall (Wright) and (Justin) Hunter and the whole bit. It’s going to have to if we’re going to continue to win.
(on whether Maurice Jones-Drew’s stats are down because he hasn’t gotten as many carries)
That’s kind of exactly right. I think last week against San Francisco he has 10 or 12 carries. He’s a guy that wants the ball 25-plus times. We’ve seen that (approach) firsthand, unfortunately, be successful and work against us. We know what he’s all about, we know how good he is, (and) we know what a challenge that will be to stop him.
(on establishing an early lead against Jacksonville)
I think we just got to play like last week and come out in the first drive and score points. When the game starts at noon, the records are gone. Everyone kind of forgets where we’re at in our positioning in the league and how we’ve done. It’s game on at noon, so that part is gone. It’s just a matter of, like you said, how you handle the mental toughness if your past or your record starts affecting you depending on how things go in the game—that all determines how the game’s played out. Obviously, you want to come out and play well early and put points on the board for a lot of reasons—one to get a lead—but also take them out of being able to run the football. (We need to) make them have to throw when we think that’s not really what they want to do. That will be our challenge not to have a situation where we don’t play well or we’re sloppy and it’s a close game in the fourth quarter. Obviously, anything can happen—one bad play and you’re in trouble. We want to take control early like we do most weeks, but it doesn’t always work out that way. We know they’re not going to make it easy. Again, it’s a division team, and we know each other well. It’ll be a tough football game.
(on Jacksonville starting two rookie safeties)
You don’t see that very often just like you probably don’t see a starting center and guard or rookies like we have on the offensive line. They’re learning, they’re good players, and we liked them when they came out of the draft. I think if we get an opportunity to make plays because of the lack of experience that would be great. We’re going to go into the game trying to do what we do well and hopefully be scoring points.
I think that’s been good. That’s one thing that (Collin) Mooney does well—he gets out of the way. He makes a decision and goes and does the best he can with the decision he made instead of delaying or thinking. That’s (when problems occur) when a fullback gets in the way of a running back. I think he’s been pretty good at that. I thought last week he did a good job. He’s played well really all year. I don’t think he’s ever been the problem. There’s certain games he only gets eight plays, six plays, but last week he got quite a few plays. He’s done a solid job for us, and he’s gotten better on special teams, too. He’s been a very good contributor.